Soil erosion in sloping vineyards under conventional and organic land use managements (Saar-Mosel Valley, Germany)

M. Kirchhoff, J. Rodrigo-Comino, M. Seeger, J.B. Ries


German vineyards are one of the land uses most prone to soil erosion. Due to their placement on mainly steep slopes and non-conservative cultivation practices, runoff and soil loss are a serious problem for wine growers. In the Saar-Mosel valley (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany), there is a tendency towards organic management of vineyards with protective grass cover in the inter-rows. Since there is a lack of information about organic-conventional tillage in German vineyards related to soil erosion processes, this study presents a comparison between these two soil management practices. For this purpose, 22 rainfall simulations were performed as well as a medium-term monitoring by using 4-paired Gerlach troughs in two experimental sites in the Saar-Mosel valley. The mean simulated runoff coefficient and suspended sediment load in conventional vineyards amounted up to 23.3% and 33.75 g m-2, respectively. In the organic site, runoff and soil loss were only recorded in one out of the 11 simulations. Runoff and sediment was collected in the Gerlach troughs for 33 natural rainfall events. In the conventional vineyard, the total measured soil loss was 3314.63 g m-1 and 6503.77 g m-1 and total runoff volumes were 105.52 L m-1 and 172.58 L m-1. In the organic site, total soil losses reached 143.16 g m-1 and 258.89 g m-1 and total runoff was 21.65 L m-1 and 12.69 L m-1. When soil loss was measured without corresponding runoff or precipitation, soil erosion was activated by tillage or trampling. Finally, the conventional vineyard showed a higher variability in soil loss and runoff suggesting less predictable results.


soil erosion; organic vineyards; conventional vineyards; rainfall simulation; Gerlach trough

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